Brewers grains fit the bill

3 October 1997

Brewers grains fit the bill

Brewers grains provide a

simple, high protein ration

for calves destined for

finishing in a Suffolk

college trial. Emma Penny


TOTAL traceability and flexibility are why brewers grains will comprise most of the ration in a beef finishing trial at Otley College, Ipswich, Suffolk.

The 40 Continental and Hereford cross calves in the trial were brought onto the colleges unit at 10 days old, and will be finished at about 18 months old.

The trial will investigate setting up a producer blueprint for beef using straw and by-products, which would also satisfy consumer requirements. Rumenco and Tesco are also involved in the trial.

The calves were weaned onto ad-lib coarse mix at seven weeks old. A home-mix was then introduced at the end of July, based on rolled barley, brewers grains, barley straw, minerals and yeast. Currently, the ration is 3kg rolled barley, 6-7kg brewers grains and 2kg barley straw, giving an ME of 11.7MJ/kg DM and a crude protein of 15.4%, at a cost of 42p/head/day.

The ration will be fed at a flat-rate throughout the winter, with the exception of brewers grains, which will be fed ad-lib. According to the colleges beef project manager Neil Ridley, the intake of brewers grains will increase to 30kg/head/day in the run up to finishing, increasing the ration price to 90p/head/day.

Good availability, low costs, high feed value and traceability were the reasons for selecting brewers grains as the main ration component, he says.

"Brewers grains are widely available in East Anglia at low cost. Theyre an excellent quality feed, with an ME of 11.5 and providing 20.8% DM protein. They can also be traced right back to source, and compared with other finishing rations they are considerably cheaper," says Mr Ridley.

Few producers currently rely on brewers grains, but this may be because they fail to realise how flexible a feed they are, says Rumencos technical manager David Thornton.

At Otley, they are stored undercover. Mr Thornton says they could be stored outside and covered with a polythene sheet or in a clamp of Heston bales.

According to Mr Ridley, feeding brewers grains does sacrifice some of the convenience of feeding concentrate, but he points out that there is little mixing required. "We have to roll the barley, but most farms are geared up for that. We just top dress minerals and yeast over the brewers grains and barley. Straw provides the long fibre."

Current liveweight gain on the ration is 0.96kg/head/day, although the Hereford crosses are putting on 1.08kg/head/day. "The ration is designed to achieve 1.05kg/head/day, and we expect liveweight gain to improve – but we have found that changing feeds does check growth."

Brewers grains will provide a cheap, high quality ration for finishing cattle in the trial at Otley College, says beef project manager Neil Ridley.


&#8226 Cheap and plentiful

&#8226 Good traceability

&#8226 High quality feed.

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